Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever

James Lipton shares his love for his beautiful wife.

April, spring ... and another blog.

Spring is my favorite time of year. I explain why in my book Inside Inside: I confess that I am hugely fond of beginnings and, by logical inference, averse to endings. I don't know whether this makes me an optimist or a pessimist, but I've long since reconciled myself to the fact that it's there and it's never going to go away.

April may be the cruelest month to Eliot, but to me it's the kindest, with its portents of spring, which is crammed with beginnings. Of holidays, I enjoy Memorial Day because it officially begins the pleasant summer season, and dislike Labor Day because it ends it. Thanksgiving is welcome because it begins the Christmas season, of which I confess to being inordinately fond, and I'm resistant to the compulsory joy of New Year's Eve, because it ends it.

This affection for beginnings has had a predictable effect on my preferences. Though I should know better than to invite comparison with my betters as I begin my own literary effort, I confess to unbridled admiration for the blunt simplicity of "Call me Ishmael"; the instant dramatic engagement of "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"; the authorial certainty of "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"; the ringing challenge of Donne's "Go and catch a falling star,/Get with child a mandrake root"; the quiet fury of Yeats' "Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer;/Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;" the stately opening chords of Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, which greet us not with the C-major tonic but with a submediant A minor chord, as if the boat had left the dock without us, and we had no choice but to jump in and swim after it; the ominous minor key (verbally and musically) of Irving Berlin's "There may be trouble ahead," before he shifts jubilantly to a major key for "Let's face the music and dance!"

As always, I'm grateful to all of you who have responded to my blog. Jennie Christian, you ask whether the fact that your answers to the Pivot Questionnaire change from time to time is "a bad thing." Not at all. My answers sometimes change, too. The Questionnaire is designed to reveal a current state of mind, so, of course, the answers change.I hope you continue to answer it. L Kelly, in answer to your wish, the Robin Williams Inside the Actors Studio DVD is about to burst upon the world -- with forty minutes more of never-before-seen-or-heard Robin. My wife's name is Kedakai, and Jenny has asked how it's pronounced. The first syllable, which is accented, rhymes with "bread," the second rhymes with "Uh," and the third rhymes with "sky." It means "noble" in Japanese, which I find entirely fitting.

In fact, Kedakai is half Japanese and half Irish, which may explain her extraordinary beauty. You don't have to take my word for it. There are photographs of her in Inside Inside that make the case far better than any words of mine.

One photo is of a famous nude portrait of Kedakai, painted for a Paris Review poster by the artist Paul Davis. As I say in the book:

The poster hangs in the Plimpton salon on East Seventy-second Street, and in our home, and on the wall at Elaine's Restaurant, next to a bust of George, in a memorial to our departed friend. Elaine usually seats my guests and me at the table under it, where I preside beneath my wife's graceful form with understandable pride. There is another photograph of Kedakai in Inside Inside that has occasioned as much comment as anything else in the book. It's a card from the famous board game Clue on which Miss Scarlet, holding a long cigarette holder, glances seductively at the bearer of the card. Miss Scarlet is in fact my wife, Kedakai. Literally. On the card and the cover of the Clue box. As I wrote in the caption under the card: How many men can claim to be the husband of Miss Scarlet? It's unnerving, however, to discover that your wife committed the murder in the library with the candlestick. There's a lot more about Kedakai in the book. Thanks, Jenny, for asking how to pronounce her name. It gave me this opportunity to brag about her again.

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